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Leisure: The Basis of Culture by Josef…

Leisure: The Basis of Culture (1948)

by Josef Pieper

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This is worth the read for anyone interested in the relationship between the emerging sense of the culture of Total Work - where everything is measure by its productivity and the concept of leisure - not as indolence but rather a reverence for pursuing a muse-like interest. ( )
  johnverdon | Dec 11, 2018 |
This book is actually two monographs. The first, from which the book's title is taken, laments the distinction made in modern (circa 1947 post-war Germany) between work that is "useful" and philosophy which is "useless". Pieper argues that the distinction is false: philosophizing (the subject of the next essay) is an essential part of human nature. Leisure is not snowboarding in the Rockies or yachting in the Caribbean. It is taking the time to contemplate Things As They Are. So what is philosophizing? Stepping out beyond the workaday world to contemplate "wonder". Pieper also asserts that eliminating religion cuts out the basis of culture or philosophizing. Not that religion/theology are the same or that it must be a Christian (Catholic) belief. But lack of belief in God empties out philosophy.

It is important to understand that Pieper stands in part in the tradition of the Romantic German Idealists. At least, epistemologically. Much of his argumentation is intuitive, and his discussion of "spirit" reminds me of Hegel. I find myself agreeing with many, if not most, of his definitions and assertions, but I find any grounds for such beliefs to be left as an exercise for the reader, or perhaps he considers these assertions to be self-evident from within. I would contrast Pieper with C. S. Lewis, who always searches for the grounds and justification for holding any belief, theologically, philosophically, or even matters of fact.
2 vote KirkLowery | Mar 4, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0865972109, Hardcover)

Modern Political Philosophy

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:02 -0400)

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One of the most important philosophy titles published in the twentieth century, Joseph Pieper's Leisure, the Basis of Culture is more significant, even more crucial than it was when it first appeared fifty years ago. Pieper shows that Greeks understood and valued leisure, as did the medieval Europeans. He points out that religion can be born only in leisure. Leisure that allows time for the contemplation of the nature of God. Leisure has been, and always will be, the first foundation of any culture. He maintains that our bourgeois world of total labor has vanquished leisure, and issues a startling warning: Unless we regain the art of silence and insight, the ability for nonactivity, unless we substitute true leisure for our hectic amusements, we will destroy our cultureCand ourselves. These astonishing essays contradict all our pragmatic and puritanical conceptions about labor and leisure; Joseph Pieper demolishes the twentieth-century cult of Awork as he predicts its destructive consequences.… (more)

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